What is the role of bipolar disorder in the development of suicidal behaviors?

Updated: Jul 26, 2021
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Patients with bipolar disorder are at risk for suicidal behavior, especially those with an early onset of symptoms. Goldstein and associates followed the mental health of 413 youths diagnosed with bipolar disorders and found that 76 (18%) attempted suicide at least once within 5 years of study, of these, 31 (8% of the overall group and 41% of those who attempted suicide) made many attempts. They concluded that bipolar disorder with early onset is associated with high suicide rates. The severity of depression and family history must be considered in assessment of individuals with bipolar disorder. [19]

In 2015, the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) Task Force on Suicide published a meta-analysis indicating that female gender, younger age at illness onset, and comorbid anxiety disorder are associated with suicide attempts in bipolar patients while male gender and a family history of suicide in a first-degree relative is associated with suicide deaths. [20]

Numerous international studies of lithium use have documented anti-suicidal effects in patients with affective disorders since the 1970s. [21]

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